Favorite TV Detectives
96 7.6 8.21. Columbo (1971)
FRANK COLUMBO, the Los Angeles-based homicide detective created by Richard Levinson and William Link.
With his rumpled raincoat, ever-present cigar, bumbling demeanour and Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction, disarmingly polite homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo took on some of the most cunning murderers in Los Angeles, most of whom made one fatal, irrevocable mistake: underestimating his investigative genius.
21 8 7.52. A Pocketful of Rye (1985)
JANE MARPLE, the elderly spinster and amateur detective from the English village of St. Mary Mead created by Agatha Christie.
Miss Marple solves difficult crimes because of her shrewd intelligence and, over her lifetime, St. Mary Mead has given her seemingly infinite examples of the negative side of human nature. Crimes always remind her of a parallel incident, although acquaintances may be bored by analogies that often lead her to a deeper realization about the true nature of a crime. She also has a remarkable ability to latch onto a casual comment and connect it to the case at hand.
60 8.3 8.93. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (1991)
SHERLOCK HOLMES, the 221b Baker Street, London-based consulting detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Renowned for his deer-stalker hat and long stemmed briar pipe, Holmes's abilities border on the fantastic. He is famous for his astute logical reasoning and powers of deduction, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.
Holmes is invariably accompanied on cases by his intrepid friend and colleague Dr. John H. Watson.
284 7.8 8.64. Poirot (1989)
HERCULE POIROT, the London-based Belgian private detective created by Agatha Christie.
With his signature mustache carefully trimmed and waxed, the effete, efficient former Belgian policeman now solves crimes in London.
Poirot operates as a fairly conventional, clue-based and logical detective; indicated in his vocabulary by two common phrases: his use of "the little grey cells" and "order and method". Poirot's investigating methods focus on getting people to talk. He frequently casts himself in the role of a benign confessor, especially to young women.
68 7.5 8.15. Inspector Morse (1987)
ENDEAVOR MORSE, Oxford-based police chief inspector created by Colin Dexter.
A grouchy but cultured police detective who investigates crimes in the university city of Oxford, England with his easy-going partner. Known for admiring real ale, classical music and beautiful women. He always drives a classic red Bentley.
109 8 8.36. The Fall (2013)
STELLA GIBSON, London DSI seconded to Belfast created by Allan Cubitt.
A talented female Detective Superintendent from London's Metropolitan Police Service who is brought in to catch at serial killer at large in Belfast. Cool, intelligent, unemotional and no-nonsense Stella is able to get into the mind of the killer.
1013 7.5 8.17. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)
OLIVIA BENSON, detective in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit created by Dick Wolf.
Troubled but caring Olivia specifically chose to work in a police department which investigates sex crimes due to her own background: she is the product of her mother's rape by an unknown assailant.
Usually accompanied on cases by her long-term work partner Detective Elliot Stabler, who is struggling with his own demons.
59 8.5 8.48. The Killing (2007)
SARAH LUND of the Copenhagen Police Department created by Søren Sveistrup.
A maverick Danish Detective Inspector who is driven and focused on catching killers to the exclusion of all else, including her loved ones.
3 9.3 7.99. A Taste for Death (1988)
ADAM DALGLIESH of New Scotland Yard created by P.D. James.
Dalgliesh is a Detective Chief-Inspector, and eventually Commander, in the Metropolitan Police Service at New Scotland Yard in London. In his lengthy career, he has been quite astute and successful and now heads a squad of CID officers working on only the most sensitive cases.
He is an intensely cerebral and private person who writes poetry. Dalgliesh is a widower, his wife died in childbirth and he has become reluctant to commit himself ever since.
His father was the rector of a Norfolk country parish. His sole family relation was his aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, whom he held in high esteem. After her death, Dalgliesh inherits a converted windmill located on the Norfolk coast.
3 10 7.610. The Snoop Sisters (1972)
ERNESTA SNOOP and GWENDOLYN SNOOP NICHOLSON, elderly sisters and amateur sleuths created by Alan Shayne.
A feisty spinster and her widowed sister, who are also mystery writers, work together to solve crimes to the disapproval of their police detective nephew.
11 7.5 8.411. Ellery Queen (1975)
ELLERY QUEEN, the New York City-based mystery writer son of a police detective created by Richard Levinson and William Link.
Despite being physically clumsy and absent-minded, McQueen has a razor-sharp mind and is brilliant at solving 'whodunits'. Often brought in to assist his father, NYPD Inspector Richard Queen, on difficult murder cases. He often also has to contend with interference from rival radio detective Simon Brimmer.
6 8.2 7.612. Banacek (1972)
THOMAS BANACEK, the Boston-based Polish-American insurance investigator created by Anthony Wilson.
Suave, sophisticated bachelor Banacek is a self-made man with humble origins who likes the good things in life: food, wine, classic cars and beautiful women. He is often assisted on cases by his bookseller friend Felix Mullholland and his chauffeur Jay.
180 6.5 7.113. Starsky and Hutch (1975)
DAVE STARSKY and KEN HUTCHINSON, Los Angeles detective team created by created by William Blinn.
Starsky is a Brooklyn born U.S. Army veteran, streetwise with intense, sometimes childlike moods, driving a two-door red Ford Gran Torino with a large white vector stripe.
Hutch is a Duluth, Minnesota native with a reserved and intellectually inclined character.
Their main underworld contact is the street-wise, jive-talking Huggy Bear who often dresses in a flashy manner and runs his own bar first named "Huggy Bear's" and later "The Pits."
49 6.7 7.814. A Touch of Frost (1992)
JACK FROST, an old-school no-nonsense copper who believes in traditional policing methods, created by R.D. Wingfield.
Set in the fictional South-Midlands town of Denton, Detective Inspector William Edward "Jack" Frost is an experienced and dedicated detective who frequently clashes with his superiors. In his cases, Frost is assisted by a variety of different detective sergeants, with each bringing a different slant to the particular case. Comic relief is provided by Frost's interactions with the bureaucratically-minded Superintendent Norman Mullett.
58 6.4 6.715. Cagney & Lacey (1981)
CHRISTINE CAGNEY and MARY BETH LACEY, New York City female detective team created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday.
Cagney is a single, career-minded woman with long-running personal issues with her father, alcohol and various boyfriends.
Lacey is a married working mother of two sons and, later, a baby daughter.
3 8 716. Father Brown (1974)
FATHER BROWN, an English Catholic priest who solves mysteries created by G. K. Chesterton.
Brown is a short, stumpy man with shapeless clothes and a large umbrella. Formerly of Cobhole, Essex and now working in London, he has an uncanny insight into human evil.
Father Brown's methods tend to be intuitive rather than deductive. His abilities are also considerably shaped by his experience as a priest and confessor. Brown is characteristically humble and is usually rather quiet. When he does talk, he almost always says something profound. Although he tends to handle crimes with a steady, realistic approach, he believes in the supernatural as the greatest reason of all.
28 7.2 7.617. Rosemary & Thyme (2003)
ROSEMARY BOXER and LAURA THYME, landscape gardeners and amateur sleuths created by created by Brian Eastman.
Rosemary Boxer (a plant biologist) and Laura Thyme (a former policewoman) first meet through their troubled lives and a mutual love of plants. Together they start a new life as a gardening consultancy called 'Rosemary and Thyme', tackling all kinds of horticultural problems.
But they are also amateur sleuths who seem to meet with murder and mayhem wherever they go. As soon as they start any new assignment, they find plots, conspiracies and killers between the garden paths, if not dead bodies on them.
5 9 5.618. Mrs. Columbo (1979)
KATE COLUMBO, newspaper reporter, wife, mother and amauter sleuth created by Richard Levinson and William Link.
Mrs. Kate Columbo, wife of the famous lieutenant, solves crimes as a reporter, while raising her little daughter Jenny.
4 5.3 7.319. Van der Valk (1972)
PIET VAN DER VALK, Dutch police commissioner created by Nicolas Freeling.
Van Der Valk is a cynical yet intuitive detective dealing with gritty cases involving drugs, sex and murder in 1970s Amstersdam.
94 6.6 8.220. The Rockford Files (1974)
JIM ROCKFORD, the trailer-residing private detective created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell.
A divorced former Korean war veteran and ex-convict (wrongfully convicted and fully pardoned) who now works as a struggling private investigator in the greater Los Angeles area. He lives in a mobile home on Malibu Beach and drives a gold-coloured Pontiac Firebird Esprit.
He loves Mexican food and his friends include Beth Davenport, Jim's ex-girlfriend and now his lawyer, Sgt. Dennis Becker of the LAPD and his father Rocky.
3 7.3 7.921. The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (1998)
ADELA BRADLEY, glamorous 1920s English divorcée detective created by created by Gladys Mitchell.
Mrs. Bradley uses her prodigious charm, wit and powers of deduction to dissect motives, mysteries and murder. Invariably accompanied on cases by her devoted confidant-chauffeur George Moody.
20 8.7 7.422. The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001)
THOMAS LYNLEY, 8th Earl of Asherton and Detective Inspector of Scotland Yard created by Elizabeth George.
Solves murder cases with his sidekick Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. The characters often clash regarding personality, gender and class, as Lynley is an earl and Havers comes from a working-class background.
2 7.5 8.223. A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery (1987)
LORD PETER WIMSEY, British gentleman detective created by Dorothy L. Sayers.
A bon vivant who solves mysteries for his own amusement. Wimsey was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford. He is of average height, with straw-coloured hair, a beaked nose and a vaguely foolish face. He also possesses considerable intelligence and athletic ability, evidenced by his playing cricket for Oxford University while earning a First.
Wimsey is an expert on matters of food (especially wine), male fashion and classical music. He excels at the piano and one of his cars is a 1927 Daimler.
6 8.7 6.724. Ruth Rendell Mysteries (1987)
REGINALD WEXFORD, Chief Inspector of Kingsmarkham CID in Sussex created by Ruth Rendell.
Wexford is an intelligent, sensitive man. He has a placid wife, Dora, and two daughters, Sheila and Sylvia, with whom he has a difficult relationship.
He is usually accompanied on his cases by his assistant Inspector Burden.
7 7.8 7.925. Inspector George Gently (2007)
GEORGE GENTLY, widowed detective inspector created by Alan Hunter.
Following the murder of his wife by notorious gangster Joe Webster, Inspector George Gently is pondering retirement. When he hears about a murder in Northumberland that sounds like Webster's handiwork, he delays his retirement to take on this one last case. Paired with local detective DS John Bacchus, he must track down Webster, while at the same time trying to deal with his headstrong young assistant and keep him on the straight and narrow.
8 6.8 7.126. Wycliffe (1994)
CHARLES WYCLIFFE, Cornish Detective Superintendent created by W.J. Burley.
Wycliffe solves murders in central and west Cornwall assisted by DI Doug Kersey and DI Lucy Lane. Wycliffe and his team are responsible for a large geographical area and often have to spend time away from home during an investigation. This can cause problems for contented family man Wycliffe, who is married to a teacher and has two teenage children.
3 8 7.927. Hazell (1978)
JAMES 'JIM' HAZELL, a cockney private detective created by Gordon Williams and Terry Venables.
A wise-cracking private eye in the style of earlier film-noir detectives such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. Hazell is often assisted by his cousin Tel and is harassed by Detective Inspector 'Choc' Minty.
106 6.5 7.528. Hawaii Five-O (1968)
STEVE McGARRETT of Hawaii Five-0 created by Leonard Freeman.
Detective Captain McGarrett is former U.S. naval officer and heads Hawaii Five-0, an elite branch of the Hawaii State Police answerable only to the governor. McGarrett and his team investigate and hound international secret agents, criminals and organized crime syndicates plaguing the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii Five-O was named in honor of Hawaii's status as the 50th State. The rest of the team includes detectives Daniel "Danno" Williams, Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua.
2 7.5 7.229. Dog and Cat (1977)
JACK RAMSEY and J.Z. KANE, male-female detective team created by Walter Hill.
Sgt. Jack Ramsey is an undercover detective with the Los Angeles Police Department who finds himself teamed with an extremely sexy but very green partner named J.Z. Kane who drives a souped-up Volkswagen Beetle with a Porsche engine.
Together they form a friendship and trust - completely platonically - that leads to them capturing many of L.A.'s criminals. Lt. Arthur Kipling is their boss.
"Dog and Cat" is a slang term used by police officers to denote a male-female partnership.
1 8 730. The Gentle Touch (1980)
MAGGIE FORBES, DI in the Metropolitan Police CID, created by Terence Feely.
Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes is tough, no-nonsense female cop who has worked her way up through the ranks of the police force and is based at the Seven Dials police station in London. Maggie's husband, a police constable, is murdered during the first episode, leaving her to juggle her career with single parenthood, raising her teenage son.
Maggie Forbes returned in the more action orientated spin-off series 'C.A.T.S. Eyes' (also created by Terence Feely) about a team of female detectives in Kent who covertly work for the Home Office.
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